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Tue, 20 October 2020

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Chris Grayling accused of HS2 budget cover-up

Chris Grayling accused of HS2 budget cover-up
3 min read

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been accused of hiding details of the budgets and timescales for the delivery of HS2 after his department heavily redacted a report on the project.

 


Key parts of the development agreement between the Government and HS2 Ltd, first drawn up in 2014, have been redacted, including information on the “baseline delivery schedule”, the “cost model” for the first phase of the scheme, and annexes on “budget envelopers” and “target prices”.

The Department for Transport said the information was commercially sensitive. The agreement says Mr Grayling has the final decision on redactions
 
Campaign group Stop HS2 accused him of failing to tell the truth about the project. Campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “The concept that the construction timetable of HS2 is commercially sensitive and is therefore a state secret is utterly ludicrous. It is absolutely in the public interest to release this information and the working budgets because this is a government project being built with public money. 
 
“But the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd have consistently refused to public any of the reports that actually tell the truth about what is going on with this vanity project.”
 
Stop HS2 chair Penny Gaines added: “One thing that is clear with documents relating to HS2 is that the Government tries to get away with hiding as much information as they possibly can.”
 
The Infrastructure and Projects Authority has rated HS2 as “in doubt, with major risks” for a fifth year in succession. Reports earlier this month suggested the £56bn project could cost more than £100bn – claims Mr Grayling said were “simply nonsense”.
 
Key parts of the development agreement between the Transport Secretary and HS2 Ltd, first drawn up in 2014, have been redacted, including information on the “baseline delivery schedule”, the “cost model” for the first phase of the scheme, and annexes on “budget envelopers” and “target prices”.
 
DfT said the information was commercially sensitive. The agreement says Mr Grayling has the final decision on redactions. 
 
Campaign group Stop HS2 accused him of failing to tell the truth about the project. Campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “The concept that the construction timetable of HS2 is commercially sensitive and is therefore a state secret is utterly ludicrous. It is absolutely in the public interest to release this information and the working budgets because this is a government project being built with public money. 
 
“But the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd have consistently refused to public any of the reports that actually tell the truth about what is going on with this vanity project.”
 
Stop HS2 chair Penny Gaines added: “One thing that is clear with documents relating to HS2 is that the Government tries to get away with hiding as much information as they possibly can.”
 
The Infrastructure and Projects Authority has rated HS2 as “in doubt, with major risks” for a fifth year in succession. Reports earlier this month suggested the £56bn project could cost more than £100bn – claims Mr Grayling said were “simply nonsense”.
 

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